I remember a visit with a secondary school friend of mine about a year after we gained admission into separate tertiary institutions.
“Amara and Crystal, come out o!”
Amara and I rushed out of her room to answer her dad’s call from the dining room. When we got there, He gestured to the bowls of popcorn he made and asked us to take a bowl each. Amara quickly picked one, thanked him and made to return to her room, obviously expecting me to follow suit. I stood there, stunned… utterly speechless, staring at Amara’s dad. Father and daughter were confused.
“Crystal, are you alright”, her dad inquired.
“Yes sir”, I cleared my throat. I moved slowly to pick a bowl of popcorn as I said, “Thank you sir”. Then I hurried off into Amara’s room, slightly embarrassed.
Amara came in with a knowing smile and told me, “My dad cooks for us sometimes. He is not the typical Nigerian dad at all”. She paused and then continued thoughtfully, “If you ask me though, I think my mum deserves the credit for that. She told us when she and dad were newly married, she would lure him into the kitchen to keep her company while she cooked. After a while, I guess it only made sense that he helped her, especially at times when she had a lot to cook.”
“Wow!” I was genuinely impressed.
Amara went on to tell me about one of her school friends whose dad only ate fresh food and soups every single day. As if that was not tasking enough, he would insist that the food be cooked by his wife only, even though he had three grown daughters who could cook. This man’s case was so bad that, the few times his wife was too tired from her work as Bank Manger and she thought to trick him by adding a bit of fresh leaves to the soup from the day before, he complained bitterly and almost started a fight.
“Wawu!” I said, finally coming out of the daze I had been in as she told the story with much gusto.
“Yes ooo. My dear, there are men and there are others”, my friend retorted with a hiss.
“Fresh food, I can understand but to cook fresh soups and sauces every day is ridiculous…and you said his wife is a Bank Manager?”
“How she copes is beyond me, Crystal. One time I had gone there to sleep over, their mum returned from work at 8:00pm and their dad said he wanted to eat pounded yam. Crystal, not Poundo yam (the powder version), he wanted yams pounded with hands. My dear, I was flabbergasted”.
With my eyes bulging, “and the Mrs did the pounding?” “Before?” She asked with a slight snarl.
I whistled and stared at my friend, mouth agape, “You don’t mean it oh. Are you telling me that the woman pounded yam and cooked fresh soup that night?” I asked.
“Yes ooo! The man called the daughters out of the kitchen.”
“Noooo! Oh! is the man punishing his wife…?” I asked, still amazed.
We both fell into silence as we obviously mulled over this peculiar story. I had never heard anything like it.
“Personally, I think women bring some things on themselves”, Amara said rather solemnly. “I have heard my mother advice several brides, ‘don’t start what you can’t finish. Don’t build or permit a culture you know you can’t maintain in your home for years. If you do, you will be the one to suffer for it’”.
“Very wise words”, I muttered faintly as I continued to think it all over in my head.